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O's Boldly Challenge Bonds, Lose

Giants' Slugger Homers, Singles to Cap Big Series : Giants 7, Orioles 3

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 14, 2004; Page D01

BALTIMORE, June 13 -- Perhaps it was fatigue born of 8 hours and 16 minutes of baseball the day before that caused the Baltimore Orioles' arms to fall short, their legs to go heavy, their gloves to betray them. Perhaps it was sleep deprivation that stemmed the flow of blood to Lee Mazzilli's brain and led him to pitch to Barry Bonds twice Sunday with a base open in a close game.

It would be easy to blame the Orioles' shortcomings Sunday on the travails of the day before, when they played 23 innings, endured 782 pitches and split a doubleheader -- except that the San Francisco Giants faced the same set of hardships and managed to look both rested and inspired.


In a game of inches, Orioles' B.J. Surhoff is not quite fast enough as Giants' first baseman Damon Minor makes long stretch to shorten throw. (Preston Keres -- The Washington Post)

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And so, by the end of the Orioles' 7-3 loss in front of 45,728 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Bonds had reached another home run milestone, Orioles starter Sidney Ponson had descended further into his self-inflicted funk, and the Orioles had earned their second tongue-lashing from Mazzilli in three weeks.

"Terrible," Mazzilli said of his team's effort, which produced the Orioles' 15th loss in their last 22 games. "That's not the way we play the game. You play the game like that you lose."

Mazzilli did not reveal the specific targets of his closed-door tirade. But there was no shortage of candidates, including:

• Jerry Hairston and Larry Bigbie, who were picked off first base and second base, respectively, by Giants starter Jerome Williams (6-4) in consecutive innings to destroy scoring threats.

• Ponson (3-8), who gave up a career-high 13 hits and cost the team with his needlessly macho approach to facing Bonds, and as a result lost for the fifth straight start.

• Infielder Luis Lopez, who, starting at third base in place of Melvin Mora, failed to make a pair of critical plays, both of which were generously ruled infield hits.

"I'm not going to make excuses," Lopez said. ". . . . [excuses] all stink."

• And second baseman Brian Roberts, who, for the second consecutive game, misplayed a fly ball in the shallow outfield, this time losing it in an overcast sky.

"You don't think [the sky] is that bright until the ball goes up," Roberts said. "You have to be prepared. I guess I wasn't."

As for Mazzilli, he faced some pointed questions as well -- about his choice to pitch to Bonds in a couple of situations in which other managers have walked him.

In the third inning, Bonds came to the plate with a runner on third and two outs. Catcher Javy Lopez looked into the dugout, and Mazzilli gave him the sign to pitch to Bonds.

"It was early in the game," Mazzilli said of his decision to pitch to Bonds. "If it was late in the game, I'm not going to do that."


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